4

Steps
to Control
Your Diabetes
for Life
Contents
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Step 1: Learn about diabetes . . . . . . . .2
Step 2: Know your diabetes ABCs . . . .4
Step 3: Manage your diabetes . . . . . . .6
Step 4: Get routine care . . . . . . . . . . . .8
Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10
My Diabetes Care Record . . . . . . . . . .11
Where to Get Help . . .Inside Back Cover
1
Learn about diabetes.
Step 1
Know your diabetes ABCs.
Step 2
Manage your diabetes.
Step 3
Get routine care.
Step 4
4 Steps to Control
Your Diabetes for Life
This booklet presents four key steps to help you
control your diabetes and live a long and active life.
Diabetes is a serious disease. It affects almost every part of
the body. That is why a team of people may help you take
care of your diabetes:
● doctors
● diabetes educators
● nurses
● dietitians
● eye and foot doctors
● pharmacists
● dentists
● mental health and
social workers
● your friends and family
✔ Talk to your health care team about your
special needs.
✔ Work with your team to manage your diabetes.
The ✔marks in this booklet show actions you could take.
2
Diabetes means that your blood glucose
(blood sugar) is too high. There are two
main types of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes—the body does not make insulin.
Insulin helps the body use glucose from food for energy.
People with type 1 need to take insulin every day.
Type 2 diabetes—the body does not make or use
insulin well. People with type 2 often need to take pills or
insulin. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes.
All people with diabetes need to eat healthy foods, stay at a
healthy weight, and be active every day.
Diabetes is a serious disease.
Terms such as “a touch of diabetes” or “your sugar is a
little high” suggest that diabetes is not a serious disease.
That is not correct and these terms should not be used.
Taking good care of diabetes will help you feel better and
avoid the health problems diabetes can cause such as:
● heart disease and stroke
● eye disease that can lead to vision problems or even
going blind
● nerve damage that can cause your hands and feet to feel
numb or tingle and that can lead to loss of a foot or a leg
● kidney problems
● gum disease and loss of teeth
When your diabetes is in good control, you are more likely
to feel better and:
● be less tired and thirsty
Learn about diabetes.
Step 1
3
● urinate less often
● heal better and have fewer gum, skin, or bladder
infections
● be less likely to have blurry vision or numb hands or feet
Some people are more likely to get diabetes.
Some people may have a higher chance of getting diabetes.
They should ask their doctor if they need to be tested for
diabetes.
These include people who
● are ages 45 and older
● are overweight
● are African American, Hispanic/Latino American, Asian
American or Pacific Islander, or American Indian
● have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
● have high blood pressure (above 140/90)
● have low HDL (good cholesterol) and high levels of
blood fats
● have had diabetes when pregnant or gave birth to a large
baby (over 9 pounds)
● are active less than three times a week
✔ Ask your health care team what type of diabetes
you have or if you should be tested for diabetes.
✔ Know why diabetes is serious.
✔ Know who is more likely to get diabetes.
4
Manage your A1C (blood glucose or
sugar), Blood pressure, and Cholesterol.
This will help lower your chances of
having a heart attack, a stroke, or other
diabetes problems. These are called the
ABCs of diabetes.
Ais for the A1C test.
It shows how well your blood glucose has
been controlled over the last 3 months.
It should be checked at least twice a year.
The goal for most people is less than 7.
High blood glucose levels can harm your kidneys, feet,
and eyes.
Bis for blood pressure.
The goal for most people is 130/80.
High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard.
It can cause heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease.
Know your diabetes ABCs.
Step 2
5
✔ Ask your health care team:
● What are my A1C (blood glucose), Blood
pressure, and Cholesterol numbers?
● What should my ABC numbers be?
✔ Write down your numbers on the record card
at the back of this booklet.
Cis for cholesterol.
The LDL goal for most people is less than100.
Bad cholesterol, or LDL, can build up and clog your blood
vessels. It can cause a heart attack or a stroke.
6
Many people avoid the long-term problems of diabetes by
taking good care of themselves and the ABCs of diabetes.
Work with your health care team, friends, and family to
make healthy lifestyle choices and reach your ABC goals.

Follow your diabetes food plan. If you do not
have one, ask your health care team about it.

Eat the right portions of healthy foods such
as fruits and vegetables (5 to 9 servings a day), fish, lean
meats, dry beans, whole grains, and low-fat or skim
milk and cheese.

Eat foods that have less salt and fat.

Get 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days
of the week.

Stay at a healthy weight—by being active and
eating the right amounts of healthy foods.

Stop smoking—seek help to quit.

Take medicines the way your doctor tells you. Ask
if you need aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke.
Manage your diabetes.
Step 3
7

Check your feet every day for cuts, blisters, red
spots, and swelling. Call your health care team right
away about any sores that won’t heal.

Brush your teeth and floss every day to
avoid problems with your mouth, teeth, or gums.

Check your blood glucose the way your doctor
tells you to.
✔ Work with your health care team to manage
your diabetes and stay healthy.
✔ If you have Medicare Part B, ask your health
care team how to get some of the cost paid for
● learning about diabetes self-care.
● special shoes, if you need them.
8
See your health care team at least
twice a year to find and treat
problems early. Follow this plan.
At each visit get a:
❏ Blood pressure check (if over 130/80, ask what steps to
take to reach your goal)
❏ Weight check
❏ Foot check
Two times each year get:
❏ A1C check (check more often if over 7)
❏ Dental exams to prevent gum disease and loss of teeth.
Tell your dentist you have diabetes.
Get routine care.
Step 4
9
✔ Ask your team about these and other tests you
may need.
✔ Use the diabetes care record at the back of this
booklet to keep a record of your diabetes care.
Once each year get a:
❏ Cholesterol check (if LDL is over 100,
ask what steps to take to reach your
goal)
❏ Dilated eye exam to check for eye problems
❏ Complete foot exam to check on foot health
❏ Urine and blood tests to check for kidney problems
❏ Flu shot
At least once get a:
❏ Pneumonia shot
10
Notes
11
My Diabetes Care Record
A1C (Blood Glucose) – At least twice each year
Usual goal: less than 7 My Goal:_______
Date
Result
BLOOD PRESSURE (BP) – Each visit
Usual goal: less than 130/80 My Goal:_______
Date
Result
CHOLESTEROL (LDL) – Once each year
Usual goal: less than 100 My Goal:_______
Date
Result
WEIGHT – Each visit My Goal:_______
Date
Result
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12
Diabetes Care Date Result
Each visit
Foot check _________ _________
Weight check _________ _________
Twice each year
Dental exam _________ _________
Once each year
Dilated eye exam _________ _________
Complete foot exam _________ _________
Kidney check _________ _________
Flu shot _________ _________
At least once
Pneumonia shot _________ _________
My Diabetes Care Record
Where to get help:
American Association of Diabetes Educators
1-800-TEAM-UP4 (800-832-6874)
www.diabeteseducator.org
American Diabetes Association
1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383)
www.diabetes.org
American Dietetic Association
1-800-366-1655 (in English and Spanish)
www.eatright.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1-877-232-3422
www.cdc.gov/diabetes
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
1-800-MEDICARE or (800-633-4227)
www.medicare.gov/health/diabetes.asp
National Diabetes Education Program
1-800-438-5383
www.ndep.nih.gov
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive
and Kidney Diseases / National Diabetes
Information Clearinghouse
1-800-860-8747 (in English and Spanish)
www.niddk.nih.gov
National Diabetes Education Program
1-800-438-5383
www.ndep.nih.gov
The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) is
a joint program of the National Institutes of Health and
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NIH Publication No. 04-5492
December 2003